European, Japanese and American vintage toys share the stage at Milestone Jan. 13

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – An amazing selection of pre- and postwar toys from around the world is on tap with Milestone Auctions New Year’s Antique Toy Extravaganza on Saturday, January 13. The catalog is now available for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

The 732-lot sale includes some of the most sought-after European, American and Japanese playthings from the golden era through the postwar production years. Highlights include a super-rare boxed Linemar Mechanical Popeye & Olive Oyl tank, a stellar Diamond Planet Robot, and a Marx Big Loo robot prototype with impeccable documentation and provenance from its original designer.

“We feel very fortunate to have so many incredible toys from advanced collections in one sale. Many are high-end, museum-quality pieces. Also, there are some unusual buying opportunities in the mix, like the rare variations and prototypes, which toy buyers always respond to very favorably,” Milestone’s co-owner Miles King said.

The toy hobby is still buzzing about the boxed Popeye & Olive Oyl tank that set a world auction record on April 9, 2022 when Milestone sold it for $105,000. One of perhaps a half-dozen examples known to exist, the toy had emerged from Australia, a fact that became widely known after the sale. Contrary to the old adage, lightning did strike twice in the same spot. Worldwide postsale coverage led to the discovery of yet another boxed Popeye tank in Australia from a different, completely unrelated source.

John Elsbury of Western Australia received the tank in 1957 as a seventh-birthday gift from his parents. He clearly remembers being instructed by his mother to sit outside Randall & Edwards jewelry store in downtown Kalgoorlie while the secretive purchase was being made. Sixty-five years later, after stumbling across an online article about the $105,000 price paid for a similar-looking tank, Elsbury starting digging and eventually located his toy, still in its original Linemar packaging with a two-shilling price tag. Elsbury contacted Milestone, and arrangements were made for the tank’s shipment to Ohio. It has an estimate of $40,000-$60,000.

Yonezawa’s Batman tank, all-original and complete with its vinyl Batman driver, is one of the scarcest of all Batman toys. The bright red tin-friction vehicle is emblazoned with Japanese writing, bat logos and images of both Batman and Robin. It carries a $15,000-$25,000 estimate.

Variations are the stuff of collectors’ dreams. A fantastic Yonezawa Diamond Planet Robot is an especially uncommon variation, with a silvery-blue body and red arms and ears. “Any Diamond Planet Robot is like a Fabergé egg to robot collectors. It was made in two color variations – red body with blue arms and ears, and the even rarer blue body with red arms and ears, like the one in our auction. They simply do not turn up for sale anywhere,” said Miles King. “Only a few have ever come to market, so it’s sure to attract strong competition.” The Diamond Planet Robot is estimated at $20,000-$30,000.

The word “prototype” is music to any toy collector’s ears. The sale includes the actual preproduction sample for Marx’s Big Loo Giant Moon Robot. Standing 38in tall, the unpainted silver Big Loo was acquired directly from the toy’s designer, Harry Evanoff, in 1963. It has production numbers on its back and retains a Marx sample tag that says ‘7650, Big Loo, Erie, Return to Harry E.’ The lot also includes archival letters from Louis Marx about production issues and returns, and other unique documents such as a test-sample letter and a timesheet showing hours spent on development. The godfather of all Big Loo robots has been assigned a $15,000-$25,000 estimate.

Weapons with amazing backstories come to life at Cowan’s Oct. 24

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CINCINNATI, Ohio — More than just an antique arms and militaria sale, Cowan’s Auctions brings history to life through significant and highly documented weapons and wartime mementos on Tuesday, October 24. The catalog is now available for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

Prototypes of all varieties are considered top items in any sale because so few survive to find their way into the aftermarket. Such is the case with this Singer 1911A1 cutaway prototype. The unique example was saved by longtime Singer employee Robert C. Popielarski, who preserved the handgun when the company began liquidating obsolete inventory in the 1960s. The only cutaway example ever seen, the 1911A1 has been fully authenticated since emerging from Popielarski’s collection, and carries an estimate of $50,000-$75,000.

Enlisting in the United States Navy in 1940, Radioman Third Class Fred Glaeser found himself stationed at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. When the Japanese surprise attack began, Glaeser was aboard one of the few naval aircraft to get into the air and search for the Imperial Japanese carrier fleet. Glaeser stayed in the Navy after the war, ultimately retiring in 1972 after 32 years of service. His flight jacket with numerous patches, flight log books detailing his Pearl Harbor Day flight, and much more are included in this history-laden lot. It is estimated at $5,000-$7,000.

Cowan’s sale includes many firearms presented to members of the military in recognition of their service. This Colt 1851 Navy revolver was presented to Colonel George W. Baird, who was later a Congressional Medal of Honor Winner during the Indian Wars. Baird had a meteoric career, advancing from private to colonel in then-record time, with commanders noting that despite his youth, he was a remarkable leader. The Colt is estimated at $5,000-$8,000.
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Singer U.S. Model 1911A1 cutaway prototype with provenance, estimated at $50,000-$75,000 at Cowan’s Auctions.
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Service archive of Naval Aviator Commander Fred W. Glaeser, estimated at $5,000-$7,000 at Cowan’s Auctions.
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Colt 1851 Navy revolver presented to Colonel George W Baird, estimated at $5,000-$8,000 at Cowan’s Auctions.
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Exceptional Mexican War captured dragoon saber presented to General John W. Geary, estimated at $10,000-$15,000 at Cowan’s Auctions.
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The inscribed sword, Colt 1851 Navy and Colt 1849 pocket revolvers of Medal of Honor recipient Capt. Samuel Hymer of the 115th Illinois Volunteers, estimated at $12,000-$18,000 at Cowan’s Auctions.
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Diamond Planet Robot performed like a gem at Milestone

Original Yonezawa (Japan) 10in tin windup Diamond Planet Robot, rare variation with blue body and red arms, 100% original, with high-quality repro box. Sold within estimate for $33,210. Image courtesy of Milestone Auctions
Original Yonezawa (Japan) 10in tin windup Diamond Planet Robot, rare variation with blue body and red arms, 100% original, with high-quality repro box. Sold within estimate for $33,210. Image courtesy of Milestone Auctions
Original Yonezawa (Japan) 10in tin windup Diamond Planet Robot, rare variation with blue body and red arms, 100% original, with high-quality repro box. Sold within estimate for $33,210. Courtesy Milestone Auctions

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – Nearly 880 lots of high-quality antique and vintage toys crossed the auction block at Milestone’s December 10 Winter Toy Extravaganza, chalking up $750,000 and making many collectors’ Christmas dreams come true.

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Hake’s brings more rare Star Wars, vintage video games to auction, Nov. 15-16

Encased Star Wars (1978) 3.75in Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi 12 Back-A double-telescoping lightsaber action figure with SKU on footer denoted earlier production, AFA 75 Ex+/NM. Extremely rare and only the third carded specimen of its type ever to be offered by Hake’s. Estimate $100,000-$200,000. Image courtesy of Hake’s Auctions
Encased Star Wars (1978) 3.75in Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi 12 Back-A double-telescoping lightsaber action figure with SKU on footer denoted earlier production, AFA 75 Ex+/NM. Extremely rare and only the third carded specimen of its type ever to be offered by Hake’s. Estimate $100,000-$200,000. Image courtesy of Hake’s Auctions
Encased Star Wars (1978) 3.75in Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi 12 Back-A double-telescoping lightsaber action figure with SKU on footer denoted earlier production, AFA 75 Ex+/NM. Extremely rare and only the third carded specimen of its type ever to be offered by Hake’s. Estimate $100,000-$200,000. Image courtesy of Hake’s Auctions

YORK, Pa. – The quest for early Star Wars collectibles has reached a fevered pitch, but the auction market tells us the journey is just beginning. Interest in Star Wars items is stronger than ever, especially for prototypes and samples, rare variations, and toys produced in low numbers or no numbers at all. To some, it may seem that Hake’s – the auction house holding numerous world records for Star Wars material – has already sold the ultimate rarities from that wildly popular category. But exciting surprises continue to emerge, some from unexpected sources, and those fresh consignments and new discoveries will be front and center at Hake’s November 15-16 pop culture auction. View the fully illustrated catalog on LiveAuctioneers.

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Gae Aulenti: maverick of Italian Midcentury design

A Gae Aulenti prototype Saint Moritz table for Pierluigi Ghiandi, never made for production, brought $9,195 plus the buyer’s premium in November 2019. Image courtesy of Viscontea Casa d’Aste srl and LiveAuctioneers.

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A Gae Aulenti prototype Saint Moritz table for Pierluigi Ghiandi, never made for production, brought $9,195 plus the buyer’s premium in November 2019. Image courtesy of Viscontea Casa d’Aste srl and LiveAuctioneers.
A Gae Aulenti prototype Saint Moritz table for Pierluigi Ghiandi, which never went into production, brought €9,000 (about $9,195) plus the buyer’s premium in November 2019. Image courtesy of Viscontea Casa d’Aste srl and LiveAuctioneers.

NEW YORK — Like the notable 20th-century architects Frank Lloyd Wright and Eero Saarinen, who designed furnishings to complement their buildings, Italian architect Gae Aulenti (1927-2012) excelled at translating architectural principles into decor. As one of a handful of women in the postwar Italian modern movement, she stood out from the crowd. Her keen design acumen led her to design striking pieces of furniture and lighting that embodied the Mid-century Modern aesthetic.

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Boba Fett prototype sells for record $236K at Hake’s Star Wars auction

Boba Fett L-slot rocket-firing prototype action figure, predecessor to the Boba Fett figure in Kenner’s popular 1979 Star Wars toy line, 3.75in tall, AFA-graded 80+ NM (archival case). Encapsulated with notarized CIB COA. Sold for a world-record price of $236,000 against an estimate of $100,000-$200,000

YORK, Pa. – The enduring, multigenerational appeal of Star Wars action figures and related collectibles was never more obvious than on June 2nd, when Hake’s first-ever Special Event Auction featuring memorabilia from the legendary franchise closed the books at $903,000. The online auction, whose final bid was received at 11:14 p.m., achieved a 100% sell-through rate and set multiple new world records in so doing. In Hake’s last two auctions, 500 lots of Star Wars material have sold for a combined $2.1 million.

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Hake’s launches all-Star Wars auction of prototypes and rarities, June 2

Boba Fett L-slot rocket-firing prototype action figure, predecessor to the Boba Fett figure in Kenner’s popular 1979 Star Wars toy line, 3.75in tall, AFA-graded 80+ NM (archival case). Encapsulated with notarized CIB COA. Estimate $100,000-$200,000

YORK, Pa. – In the investment-obsessed world of fine art, scarcely a week goes by without some new auction record being set, either for a particular artist or art genre. Hake’s Auctions, the groundbreaking Pennsylvania company that has specialized in pop culture memorabilia since 1967, also rewrites the record books with regularity, but not with Picassos or Van Goghs. It has become known as “The House of Star Wars” because of its consistent ability to achieve world-record prices for prototypes and other rarities from the fabled sci-fi film franchise. With collector demand at an all-time high, Hake’s has responded to the call by adding something new to its roster: an online auction dedicated exclusively to Star Wars memorabilia. The debut “Special Event” has opened for bidding and will run through June 2nd.

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Hake’s pop culture auction hits $3.2M; Star Wars prototype figure tops $204K

Kenner 1979 Star Wars Boba Fett rocket-firing prototype action figure, J-slot, version 2, bears copyright stamps, AFA-graded 50 VG. Archivally encapsulated with Collectible Investment Brokerage (CIB) COA. Sold for $204,435, a world auction record for any Star Wars action figure

YORK, Pa. – Record-setting prices just kept on coming at Hake’s $3.2 million online auction of pop culture rarities and didn’t stop until the last-minute clash of the titans that determined ownership of the sale’s top lot: a Star Wars Boba Fett “J-slot” rocket-firing prototype action figure. Conceived by Kenner in 1979, the J-slot Boba Fett Version 2 was designed with a J-shape triggering mechanism on its back for firing off rockets, but the toy never made it to the production stage due to safety concerns. On that basis alone, the pre-production archetypes became immediate rarities, but more than four decades of Star Wars mania have catapulted the J-slot prototype to an extraterrestrial level of desirability. The coveted example offered by Hake’s ignited a bidding war that ended at a sky-high $204,435 – a new auction record for any Star Wars action figure.

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Pong video game prototype bounces to $270K at RR Auction

Original prototype of an Atari Home Pong video game system, $270,910
Original prototype of an Atari Home Pong video game system, $270,910
Original prototype of an Atari Home Pong video game system, $270,910

BOSTON – An original prototype of an Atari Home Pong video game system sold for $270,910 on March 17 at RR Auction. It originally came from the collection of Allan Alcorn, who revolutionized the video game industry in the 1970s as the creator of Pong, the first popular video arcade game.

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Star Wars prototype action figure sells for world-record price

1979 Star Wars Boba Fett rocket-firing prototype action figure, J-slot, version 2, bears copyright stamps, AFA-graded 50 VG. Archivally encapsulated with Collectible Investment Brokerage (CIB) COA. Extremely rare and sought after. Sold for above-estimate price of $204,435, inclusive of buyer’s premium.

YORK, Pa. – Last night Hake’s in York, Pennsylvania, set a new world auction record with the sale of a Kenner Star Wars Boba Fett rocket-firing prototype action figure. The Version 2 J-slot prototype, made in in 1979, attracted 27 bids before closing at $204,435. It was won by an online bidder in California.

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